How you doin’?

It’s a scary thing to “admit you’re not good”.

There’s a game a friend of a friend used to play where they would jokingly torture (in the lighest sense of the word) each other while shouting
“ADMIT YOU’RE NOT GOOD!”

And while I’m not comparing social media to someone trying to make me hilariously uncomfortable, in the present situation there’s certainly a parallel.

I’ve never understood how anyone can stream full-time. After three hours I can often be found yawning mid-game, as the afternoon takes it out of me. I wouldn’t say it’s out of laziness – bear in mind a 12-14 hour broadcast day isn’t unusual in my typical line of esports hosting work. Maybe it’s something to do with the constant splitting of focus between chat, your technical setup and the game itself. I have to shut everything out except my team to play to a fraction of the ability of most of my peers, and usually I’m solo queuing with people who don’t communicate in game. But I’m not skilled enough to play with people I know, and I’m also not brave enough to ask – because what if no one wants to?

Even before the COVID-19 crisis swept the world we were all in uncertain times. And yet, for once I had the stability of an events calendar with work in place – process from my first couple of years when it was far more ad hoc and when I may be booked for an event a couple of days before it kicked off. Sometimes it was a struggle – with my OCD, the uncertainty around work over the previous two Christmas pushed my mental health towards the boundary where I have had to reach for the timeout button (literally during a public holiday; OCD is not a pragmatic condition). But as the plane landed from IEM Katowice into Stanstead, I felt a freeing optimism I hadn’t for a while.

I’m totally aware that people are being made redundant, being furloughed, having events and freelance jobs cancelled the world over. People are dying. It makes me feel guilty to even think about not enjoying some of my streams. I’m not unique. I’m not the only one. I’m not alone. I have that perspective. And yet, my brain – so used to hits of adrenaline from live CSGO and broadcasting – is confused. Isolated. One second it was going to Malta to cover CS:GO for a month, and then it wasn’t.

Outside of the streams I am producing shows, content, seeing what works, taking meetings and renovating the house. I try and exercise in the confines of my kitchen, somehow avoiding kickboxing plates to the end of their lives. I attempt to calculate how much I am worth if I’m hosting from home to prevent potential work from falling through if I propose the wrong figure. I face the universal experience of the freelancer. I dream ideas. I wait. My to-do list mounts up while I procrastinate on what to start first. Outside my study while I stream, my boyfriend works on progressing the state of of our house. He often cooks, helps out at a food bank some days. He brings me food and tea during my stream. He fixes things while I fizzle out.

Often streams are really fun. I’m getting better at Counter-Strike, although the past week or so has seen me miss opportunities in game I know I could have captialised on. I have started doing training maps and relax a little on my no backseating rule when testing flashes. But I’m firm in stopping it once the matches start.

You’re pretty much always going to get odd comments in Twitch chat. Sometimes there’s little things and hey, who cares! You’re fragging out. You’ve got this. And sometimes the steam roll begins, the brainwaves flatten out, your instinct to keep smiling fails you. And then you’re self loathing, dealing with losing on the server and trying not to lose it at the faceless username telling you to relax, while another types “WTH. WAS. THAT!?”.

I enjoy letting my emotions loose in-game. I rage, I let it out and I get on with it. Or I try to. But when you’re streaming you’ve got a whole host of people trying to either influence your emotions (tilting you, insulting you), or policing your behaviour – ie “relax”, “don’t sing”, “you should do X, Y and Z”, “if you took my advice you’d be better”. When you’re hosting, you can avoid Twitch chat and Reddit – and you learn very quickly that it’s healthier for you and everyone around you (although slip-ups are inevitable). When you’re streaming, you can be faced with a wall of people telling you that you suck, in real time where you’re on camera. You can’t hide from that.

But then you also have the supporters. The novel names that become familiar and that you look forward to seeing. The incredible mods who voluntarily keep things going. The subs and viewers who often join me for games. The chatters who keep newcomers in check and don’t make me feel bad when I put someone in their place. Who metaphorically nod and confirm that yes, they did understand I was joking when I explained to the troll that of course my hair is better than my in-game skills, because my hair is awesome.

So here I am. Aware that I’m in a much better position than many, but admitting I’m not good all the same. It was something I needed to do last year when my OCD was as it’s deadliest and I couldn’t do it then; I had a job to do, and then another and another, and even though I was busy and working, I was far more alone then than I am now.

I want you to know that, no matter your situation or its ups and downs, you’re going to be OK too. You will be good. And if you’re not good now, try to think of the one person you trust most and tell them.

And then watch the following clip from The Chase. (It’s a classic.)

8 thoughts on “How you doin’?

  1. Frankie, thank you for sharing your thoughts and emotions with us. I’m a little bit amazed by the fact how open and brave you are to show what you’re going thru.
    We are always there to support you, no matter what. Please don’t ever forget that. Thank you for everything you do. Frankie, stay awesome!

    Quickie_demon

  2. Good evening, Frankie! I’m not sure if my message will reach you, but still I want to try. I don’t know you as person to praise you and I’m not going to pretend to be a wise, astute man. However, even though my life way isn’t so long I definitely say that you’re a human with a pure soul, you’re very vivid and warm, like a star. Your openness and artistic behavior brings serenity and genuine joy to heart. I think it’s absolutely okay to give ourselves breaks, to let our inner energies be restored. In the end we are all humans. I’m very happy for you that you have such a marvelous nugget (hinting to your boyfriend). It’s quite a rare thing to find a reliable, kind man, man of integrity nowadays. And I’m happy that there is someone to support and comfort you in that times. This too shall pass. I truly admire you and my heart says me that you a rare person of sincerity and inner purity. Wish you get alright very soon.
    Best regards,
    AlexTanres

  3. Hi from Paraguay (South America), I was feeling exactly the same, with another annoying thoughts. Like a pressure because I do have a job, but I hate it, because I feel so dumb at it, and I know that I’m good in other stuff. “At least you are working”, “at least you have a job”, some people told me. But the truth is that I’m NOT happy at all.

    And that affects me, I’m an affiliate streamer, not full time, and I can’t receive donations (thanks corrupted country) so I do it because I love to share and show stuff and thoughts (and play LoL), but today, I couldn’t be ON. I don’t feel emotionally well.

    At least, I decided to try again looking for a job in the media, that I know I enjoy, but maybe I won’t have a higher payment, but well, my mental health and happiness comes first.

    Thanks for sharing with us, I didn’t know you have a blog (I have one too!), so it made me happy to dint out you like to write! ^^

    Warm hugs, Frankie!

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